January 2, 2015

Pepper Jelly Cheesecake

I didn't want to do anything fancy for New Year's Eve, but my pepper jelly did. 

Voila, savory cheesecake.

It's almost as good as the Crabmeat Cheesecake that won me over at Primeaux Cheese & Vino at The Summit (which has a talented chef who seems much older than his 23 years (yes, 23) per my interview for a profile on him for 280 Living).

And the creamy party starter used up my supply of chesse, a find specialty similar to cheddar with an exclusive "chesse" Sharpie-written label from our work holiday party caterer.

P.S. It only took me FIVE months, but I am back to blogging in 2015. I am writing this as an accountability tool going forward.

July 28, 2014

Summer Gratitude: 2014 Edition

Lately I have been grateful...

 For excesses of food, and a family that breeds them

For heaven in the form of fruit growing in Chilton County,  the wonder of a liquid that transforms into its perfect creamy complement and that not all dairy has 0 percent fat

 For thoughtfulness in the form of paper and confection

Dave's Pizza, Homewood, Alabama
 For a reporting job that is frequently delicious

 For friends who show up with bounty like this for a quick lunch, and friends who gift me with beautiful objects on which to capture them

Caprese Grilled Chicken
 For new beginnings that provide a good excuse to use a new grill

June 10, 2014

Cajun Frittata

Some people welcome friends into their arms with heartfelt hugs. I am not one of them. I will reciprocate hugs, preferably side ones, but I might be the world's most awkward hugger. It just doesn't say love to me.

Instead, when a friend is stressed, I want to love on her (or him) by preparing edible comfort. When big deal things happen in others' lives, I find myself crafting something tasty. That's how I roll.

And that is how I found myself toting frittata ingredients to an old white house in small town, Alabama.

Because, of course, when a bride requests you make a frittata on her wedding morning, you prechop onions, pepper and Conecuh sausage, you preshred you some Monterey jack cheese, and you throw your dishes and your eggs and your olive oil in a bag and take them with you.

And as you relish those moments leading up to the BIG moment, that only-happens-once time that is so precious when spent with close friends, you get those close ones well-nourished in a way that says "this is my hug." And also you put flowers in your hair.

You get bonus point if clearing-rain morning light streams into your kitchen for photo opps, even if the lighting in your steaming skillet shot isn't the greatest.

May 11, 2014

Chocolate Cream Comfort

Friday afternoon I returned home to a mildly chaotic sea of flowers. It was wedding eve for my horticulturist of a roommate, and the clock was ticking for team wedding to finish arrangements, bouquets and boutineers before the rehearsal. Add to that news of a possibility of rain for an outdoor ceremony and that the photographer could be stuck in New York for the ceremony, and yeah, the state of the flowers was indicative of the mood in the space.

Enter pie.

Before I stepped into help with direct wedding matters, I went to the fridge to pull out the previous night's treasure,  Saveur's wonder of a chocolate cream pie recipe, encased in an Oreo crust and topped with real-deal whipping cream.

It was what the bride, remembering its previous iteration as squares, had requested for celebrations in her humble honor.

Slices of decadence were distributed, chocolate was consumed, florals were completed and a beauty of a wedding ensued.

I'd like to say that when the seas of my life turn to chaos that I want to turn to a greater, perfect savior, but the truth is I am drawn to seek comfort in the family of chocolate. Cookies, pies, cakes  they are what I crave to satiate my desire for still waters.

Clearly my priorities get mixed up, but thinking of the richness of creamy chocolate reminds me of words a flower party member I had only met the night before told me, "I like that you are the kind of people who pulled out pie in a time like that."

There's a place for words of greater truth, but there's also a place for wordless love in chocolate form.

April 15, 2014

Carbless, Sugarless Celebration Dinner

How to make a super special dinner with as few carbs possible for a super special friend who just so happens to have dietary restraints:

1. Step a bit out of the ordinary meal routine with a formal menu. Bonus points if your florist of a friend gets involved with setting the table.

2. Plate a simple green salad and serve it before the main course. Revolutionary, right?

3. Stuff cream cheese into chicken breasts for Chicken Diablo with Mustard Sauce.

4. Bacon. It makes anything better, especially when wrapped around something green.

5. Faux carbs a.k.a. cauliflower rolls. It's a real thing. And it tastes pretty good topped with Parmesan.

6. Whip out a sugar-free berry-lemon jello mold straight from 1975.  Do a victory dance if it comes out of your mold in decent form. Warning: do not consume the berries if on sugarless diet. They simple serve as candle holders.

Verdict: Birthday meal success. Throw in some close friends, tell them to share super special things about the super special birthday girl, and it's pretty much the best thing that could happen to an introvert, at least in the introverted hostess' opinion.

March 26, 2014

Lemony Farro Salad

Now that we are exiting soup season, my make-a-dish-I-can-eat-off-of-all-week strategy has shifted to grainy salads. This week's adventure was my first with farro, which is kind of like a thick brown rice. I like how nutty and filling it is, so much so that I wasn't even looking for meat.

It meets the standards my mom taught me from her college home ec classes (those weren't in our catalog)- variety of texture, color and temperature (only if your farro's still kind of warm and your cheese is cold, but still).

However, keep your eaters in mind. This is for the grain-adventurous. My coworkers enjoy talking about how farro salad at a new restaurant near us is "bird seed."

March 13, 2014

Strawberry Baked Doughnuts

Theory: all things small and cute have a positive correlation to requiring hard work. This applies to puppies. This applies to small children. This applies to miniature sugary delicacies.
 Behold, the product of umpteen batches of light and fruity lil' cakes in my miniature doughnut pan (yep, I ordered one of those once upon a time and finally got around to putting it to use).

It's fun to fascinate friends who brunch and who don't have doughnut baking pans on their radar with little cakes in a circular shape. For now, I'll make these and let Krispy Kreme do the frying. Amendment: Maybe I'll invest in a regular-sized doughnut pan so I can cut time of tedium and try again.